21 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Govt Turns to SA for Help On U.S. Sanctions

Zimbabwe Is Set to Actively Court South Africa for Help to Have the United States Imposed Sanctions On Its Marange Diamonds Lifted Goodwills Masimirembwa, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairperson told The Financial Gazette this week that overtures were being extended to the regional powerhouse.

"South Africa understands our position much better and we are hopeful that under her (Welile Nhlapo) leadership, she will steer the KPCS from the partisan stance that it has been subjected to and call for the lifting of the US sanctions on the Marange diamonds", said Masimirembwa.

"We have already seen the Southern African Development Community take a united stance against the sanctions and this is testimony to the agreement that the country must be allowed to her sell her diamonds without interference," he added.

Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo roundly condemned the US sanctions on the Marange gems at last week's inaugural diamond conference held in Victoria Falls -- further buttressing the regional standpoint.

Political observers reason that the KPCS has come under strong South African influence; since the organisation was founded in Kimberley, South Africa in 2003.

The KPCS had a South African national, Abbey Chikane serving as its inaugural chairperson and currently has that country's Mines and Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu, serving as the diamond watchdog's deputy chairperson.

Trevor Maisiri, from the International Crisis Group, said given the history of the KPCS it is no wonder that Zimbabwe is looking to South Africa for help.

"She is a strong player in the diamond industry and can help strengthen Zimbabwe's position against sanctions," he said.

South African President Jacob Zuma's former adviser and special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Nhlapo has been picked to take over as the next KPCS chairperson after Gillian Milovanovic from the US whose term of office expires year-end.

The KPCS will hold a plenary session in Washington at the end of this month, where the issue of US sanctions will be under the spotlight.

Shabangu set the tone of South Africa's incoming leadership of the diamond group by rebuking the US over its sanctions on the Marange gems.

"The presence of South Africa at this conference is testament to that we are opposed to the sanctions. They affect the whole continent and we have come out to speak against this", she said.

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